Sony Fires Off Letter To Press Outlets Demanding They Cease Publication Of And Destroy Any 'Stolen Information'

from the that-one-time-when-a-major-corporation-shot-itself-in-the-face dept

Sony may have no idea how to how to run a secure enterprise, but it doesn't really take a whole lot of expertise or technical know-how to see that this particular gambit could only backfire.
In a sharply worded letter sent to news organizations, including The New York Times, David Boies, a lawyer for Sony, characterized the documents posted online as “stolen information” and demanded that they be avoided, and destroyed if they had already been downloaded or otherwise acquired.

The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use” of the information, Mr. Boies wrote in a three-page letter sent Sunday morning to the legal departments of media organizations.
Somebody approved this -- someone higher up than David Boies. And that someone should probably step down and concentrate on staining his yacht deck or seeking to be nominated in the next Congressional election, or whatever it is studio execs do when they've outlived their usefulness.

The letter's wording [pdf link] makes it sound as though the press outlets are doing something illegal (mainly through repetitive use of the word "stolen") but is careful never to make that actual claim. It tries to bluster its way towards legitimacy by inserting a list of "in case of 'stolen' information" requests (worded to look like legal demands) into the letter.
As soon as you suspect that you may have possession of any of the Stolen Information*, we ask that you
(1) notify us using the contact information provided below;

(2) take all reasonable actions to prevent your company and any of your employees, independent contractors, agents, consultants, or anyone who may have access to your files from examining, copying, disseminating, distributing, publishing, downloading,uploading, or making any other use of the Stolen Information;

(3) arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the Stolen Information in your possession or under your control, particularly information protected under US. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged communications, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets andother business secrets and related communications; and

(4) confirm that such destruction has been completed.**
In addition, if you have provided the Stolen Information to anyone outside of your company, we ask that you provide them with a copy of this letter, and request the destruction of the Stolen Information by the recipient.
[*"Stolen Information" being much more sensitive than your garden variety, lower-case "stolen information," obvs.]
[**"Recycle Bin had little pieces of paper in it, but now appears to be empty."]

I imagine the contact information provided is swiftly being bombarded with ridicule, fake tips, more ridicule, more fake tips and pictures of empty Recycle Bins.

The only threat in the document (other than the overall tone) is this:
If you do not comply with this request, and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you, including any damages or loss to SPE or others, and including, but not limited to, any loss of value of intellectual property and trade secrets resulting from your actions.
OK. Good luck with that. The Supreme Court has already held that this sort of dissemination is protected by the First Amendment. (h/t to Marcia Hofmann)
In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the First Amendment protects the disclosure of illegally intercepted communications by parties who did not participate in the illegal interception.
The only mitigating factor is the relative worth of the "stolen information" to the public interest. Much of what's been covered likely isn't and much of what's contained in the files that hasn't been disseminated by press outlets definitely isn't. But there are some revelations that are definitely matters of public interest, not the least of which is the MPAA's plan to throw money at elected officials in exchange for some Google-hassling.

Sony appears to be in full panic mode, but it's tough to sympathize with a corporation that has been hacked 56 times in 12 years but still keeps passwords in a folder labeled "Passwords." This latest move won't earn it anything more than an internetload of derision.

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  • icon
    rw (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 5:58am

    I think the problem is that the company is run by lawyers...not particularly bright lawyers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:00am

    I used to think it was only a couple lawyers I was smarter then... I was wrong.
    O_O
    They paid them for the result of even MORE people seeing the stories and being way more curious about what is out there that made them lose their damn minds and unleash the lawyers with little grasp of the actual law.

    No wonder the "creative" sector is having problems, they are so far removed form reality that they think this was a good idea and would work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:20am

      Re:

      The 'creative' sector has a very long history of drug abuse. Look at actors and actresses, they're always in rehab along with musicians on drugs. It's no wonder all of them seem very incompetent to us, it's not that we're intelligent it's that they're just dumb probably from years of drug abuse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mvario (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:04am

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:04am

    Shoot the Messenger

    now playing at a local newspaper/website near you, brought to you by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:06am

    Simple question: Why is reporting and posting excerpts of nude photographs taken from hacked celebrity cell phones, such as Jennifer Lawrence, immoral but reporting and posting private conversations from Sony executives and finance information about celebrities, Jennifer Lawrence, considered morally okay?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 9:05am

      Re:

      Simply because one is business and one is personal - but I agree that it's all morally questionable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      Jennifer Lawrence's photos presumably don't show her kicking puppies and her having a naked body under her clothes isn't newsworthy.

      Sony execs trash talking others shows their bad character, which informs the moral decisions of consumers who might choose not to patronize businesses run by racist, democracy-subverting asshats.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      observer, 15 Dec 2014 @ 9:52am

      Re:

      Because yes, it shouldn't have happened, but at least this way some good can come of it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 10:08am

      Re:

      Simple question: why do you believe Jennifer Lawrence has emails printer on her skin?

      I haven't seen her pictures, but I don't recall anybody mentioning that she engaged in body writing as a method of communication.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AnonyBabs, 15 Dec 2014 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      You're begging the question. People aren't necessarily saying one is moral and the other is not. There is plenty of discussion to be had on that. This article is about whether it's legal. On that there is no question.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 2:29am

      Re:

      The better question would be why you think that business transactions and highly personal photographs are equivalent to each other in any way. Do you honestly think that Lawrence's pay details and naked body are worth the same thing by any metric?

      I'll leave the fact that you have some of your other facts completely wrong (e.g. the celebrities' phones weren't hacked, their iCloud accounts were) until later, then perhaps ask you to point to where people are saying this is morally OK (schadenfreude over a company with a long-term anti-consumer history doesn't count).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris Meadows (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:06am

    "Passwords" folder

    Just to note, it's more likely that the "Passwords" folder was created by the hackers as a handy place to put all the various passwords files they found in various locations as they rifled through the stuff to create the information dump they uploaded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 15 Dec 2014 @ 10:20am

      Re: "Passwords" folder

      Having worked in IT my whole career, all I can say is you'd be surprised. There's always one guy who thinks that's somehow a good idea.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:08am

    the only illegal acts are those that Sony are making and also want to make concerning a certain internet company, while enlisting the help via 'encouragement' from certain high-level legal people! had there not been anything illegal in the information that has been 'discovered and released for others to peruse, Sony and others would have nothing to worry about. as it is, Sony is openly using illegal tactics, illegal computer programs and illegal threatening behavior to try to stem something they had every intention of carrying out! they wouldn't have thought twice and nor would any of the other studios (or heads of them) about implementing any means to achieve what they wanted but as shit has hit fan, they are doing what all big companies, corporations and industries do, threaten everyone into submission that are less well equipped financially to defend themselves! yet again, a classic example of bullying by an industry member who was carrying out illegal practices just to be able to carry on doing what it has for decades, keeping control and screwing customers into the ground!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:08am

    The public apparently thinks this news IS public interest. And threatening news outlets only makes it more so (censoring our 1st amendment rights to publish? Newsworthy AND public interest!). Sony lawyers thus actually make this news more of public interest than it already was...

    Oh...the irony...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:13am

    If they thought the media was bad towards them until now simply for reporting the hack, I hope the media turns downright MALICIOUS against Sony now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:14am

    Them sure is some fine Lawyerin' Words. Them Capitalized Words obviously beat the lowly first amendment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 5:02pm

      Re:

      I was surprised they Stopped At Caps. I would have thought they were dealing with STOLEN INFORMATION, or at least STOLEN Information.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:25am

    Perhaps the public should send Sony a Cease & Desist concerning the blatant bribery of government officials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:45am

    The problem with these Lawyers and most professionals, they can't seem to think out of their professional box, it's a trap they live in (self trapped) when something happens outside their protected environment , they can't can't figure out why no ones listening to them , thats pretty much why Americas legal system is failing,and our nation toomany Lawyers in DC not enough common sense , the they need some real world experience away from the riches and the luxury.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      I think this is a pretty huge problem. At least, I see it all the time -- usually in the form of the assertion (or unstated assumption) that legality is an adequate proxy for ethics. That is, if an act is legal then it must be ethical and if an act is illegal then it must be unethical.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 9:21am

        Re: Re:

        I've been ranting about this one for years.

        It's come up in a lot of comments that I've seen in defense of CIA torture.

        Heck, Cheney keeps saying, "it was legal," and thus conjuring in the minds of many the Episode I footage of Darth Sidious saying in the next breath, "I will make it legal!"

        It's like the religious fundamentalists who cherry pick isolated passages from the old testament to justify persecuting people just because "God said it was okay in this one instance."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        observer, 15 Dec 2014 @ 7:29pm

        Re: Re:

        I think this is a pretty huge problem. At least, I see it all the time -- usually in the form of the assertion (or unstated assumption) that legality is an adequate proxy for ethics. That is, if an act is legal then it must be ethical and if an act is illegal then it must be unethical.

        I hate this. I hate this more than almost anything. They're basically saying that things are right or wrong based on whether enough rich fuckers paid for enough politicians to vote for it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dfed (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:48am

    So, surely someone at Sony Pictures has actually met Streisand, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 15 Dec 2014 @ 10:54am

      SS and the second entitlement woe

      Sony/Streisand shouts "don't look here, ahhhh noooo, don't look", flailing with their arms and shouts even louder "not heeeeere, I want to be invisible!, ohh noooo, here, here"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 1:13am

      Re:

      I read your comment and instantly that "uh uh uh uh Barbra Streisand" song came to mind. I propose a documentary on Sony failures with that song in the background.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 8:53am

    Dear Sony

    Snort my taint.

    Love,
    The Internet

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 9:07am

    Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP

    Anyone remember the attorney named “David Boies”? Name ring a bell?

    I checked the letterhead from the linked pdf, and sure enough that's Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP letterhead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Socrates, 15 Dec 2014 @ 11:25am

      Re: Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP

      David Boies represented the SCO group, famous for their entitlement, questionable ethics, and publicly displaying a file encrypted IIRC with dingbats

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 10:35am

    Well, they ARE part of the MAFIAA...

    "or whatever it is studio execs do when they've outlived their usefulness."

    Now I have this image of studio execs who have outlived their usefulness being tossed into the lowest level of the film vault at the studio, feet encased in blocks of celluloid...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 10:42am

    Call the Orco man!

    This is what happens when a company becomes infested with lawyers. Gotta shut the thing down and fumigate before they spread. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 10:43am

    Sony should know better. It's impossible to put the cat back in the bag, once kitty reaches the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gorehound (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 11:20am

    Personally I am very glad to see Sony hacked and cracked.Damn MAFIAA Company can go down in flames for all I care.Remember how these bastards illegally installed rootkits on people's computers ? How Sony pressures other Nations into agreements which do nothing for their people.How Sony bribes Politicians Worldwide.What about all the shady accounting these assholes do.How about their DRM ............... Copyright Maximalist pieces of shit.

    I look forward to reading more....and seeing Sony get their face wiped in poop over and over.

    Good Job GOP !

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 11:54am

    The only issue I have with this whole Sony hack is the release of personal information and SS#s. It's been a hoot to read some of the exec's emails.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 12:50pm

    Sony had a chance to take this negative and make a positive out of it, they chose to roll in it with their antagonists instead. They were in trouble before all of this came to light, can't imagine them surviving it if half of the revelations I've read are true. I do miss my old Walkman sometimes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 2:23pm

    So, Assange is cleared?

    Should we be expecting the editors of the NY Times to be holing up in the Equadorian embassy soon?

    Bradley/Chelsea Manning stole classified secrets, was convicted and sent to prison. Assange released said stolen info which the supremes say is okay? Why's he holed up in the Equadorian embassy again? Other than "concocted rape" charges, I know, but does he need to fear the US gov't wrath for releasing Manning's trove of state secrets? The supremes say no, yes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    madasahatter (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 5:41pm

    Say hi to Babs

    The best course of action for Sony is to apologize, fix their IT problems, and be ready to fork over lots of cash. Otherwise they should shut up because stirring the pot keeps in the news cycle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 7:51pm

    Sony Rootkit

    Fuck Sony!

    If Sony hadn't done the Sony rootkit a few years ago, I would have sympathy for them.

    But they did that rootkit, and Sony tried to (and did) crack other people's computers.

    So fuck 'em. Fuck 'em to hell.

    They deserve a lot worse than they are getting now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 3:41pm

    Mr Cameron said he wanted internet companies to take the same moral responsibility as if someone overheard a group planning a bombing in a pub.

    Except, in this case, this "someone", "overhears" EVERY "pub conversation" ever.......i.e yet again, MORE surveilance

    WTF are these "guys" gonna be PUNISHED, they've gotten away with FAR to much already

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Oh, im sorry sony, i thought nobody had a right to privacy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2014 @ 4:25pm

    Meeee boss now, meee hit head with club now

    Evolution off man

    The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use” of the information, "


    Pen and paper warrior

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 16 Dec 2014 @ 6:54pm

    Dancing around the dinosaurs.

    These legacy corporations resemble nothing less than dinosaurs, flailing wildly at the little creatures they cannot see, who are eating their feet and legs while deftly dodging the dinosaurs' best panicked efforts to crush them underfoot.

    OK, so a lot of that is just wishful thinking... :)

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Luke, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:30pm

    WikiLeaks vs Gossip

    If saying that the information could not be published because it was obtained in less than legal (a.k.a. illegal) ways didn't work for the WikiLeaks State Dept cables why would it work for what is essentially celebrity gossip?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 5:56pm

    Hi, Son¥. I don't have any Stolen Information, I'm afraid, but I do have some stolen data if that's any good. It must be yours because it's an email from one of your employees describing Angelina Jolie as a 'brat'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zach, 26 Jan 2015 @ 5:07pm

    Outlets en Buenos Aires

    Here is a great directory of Outlets Stores in Buenos Aires

    www.outlets-bsas.com.ar

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bajrangi bhaijaan torrent, 23 Jun 2015 @ 9:18am

    thanks for sharing this information with us

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mortal Kombat 3 (profile), 13 Aug 2016 @ 5:36am

    The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, Mortal Kombat 3, downloading or making any use” of the information.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Barry Ronald (profile), 13 Aug 2016 @ 5:40am

    The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, Mortal Kombat 3, downloading or making any use” of the information. Thanks anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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